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My Sustainable Day-Cation in Oakville Part 5: The Transportation Cocktail

In 2011 at TCAT‘s Complete Streets Forum in Toronto, the closing keynote speaker, Michel Labrecque, delivered a talk that really resonated with me.  He spoke of the importance of appropriate transportation, of choosing the mode that best suited the purpose of the trip, and he called this Le Cocktail Transport, the Transportation Cocktail.  He spoke of the value of bike-share programs, of carpooling, of car shares, of transit and of walking to achieve our daily transportation needs, and that has really stuck with me ever since.  There are times and trips where a bike is just not appropriate (hauling a couch halfway across the city, for example), and there are trips where using a car is equally difficult to justify (that 1 km trip to the grocery store to pick up milk and eggs, for example), and the Transportation Cocktail model really speaks to trying to use whatever mode of transportation fits the trip.  The reason I bring this up is that I saw a lot of elements of the Transportation Cocktail taking hold in Oakville while I was there, and it was very exciting and inspiring to see all the positive changes that are occurring.

Part of having an active transportation network is providing people with the ability to navigate it – these trails maps show residents the network of trails and paths and also have some interesting historical information on them.

The first hint of the diversity of transportation modes in Oakville I saw came pretty much as soon as I stepped off of the Go train in the morning.  As I stepped off of the train, hundreds of people streamed on to it, heading further East towards Toronto and the other municipalities along the Lakeshore West route of the Go Train.  The diversity of riders was impressive, from folks wearing safety boots and carrying hard hats to people wearing tailored suits toting fancy briefcases, all choosing to use transit over their cars for a significant portion of their daily commute.

Once I got away from the platform, I saw more signs of the Transportation Cocktail at play in Oakville.  Bikes filled the bike racks outside the Go Station, showing that people are choosing not one, but TWO sustainable modes of transportation every day!  Plus they probably walk from the racks to the train, and then from the train to their eventual destination, so I’m willing to give them the triple crown of sustainable transport.

Bikes fill the racks at the Oakville Go Station.

People that choose to cycle throughout Oakville are seeing some very exciting changes in their Town as well.  In 2009, the Town approved its Active Transportation Master Plan, which aims to create a continuous, connected network of cycling infrastructure by 2015.  Construction on the network outlined in the Plan began in 2011, and already there are some highly visible signs that the Town is serious about providing infrastructure for residents who choose to use active transportation.

As I walked along Lakeshore Road near South Shell Park, I really felt that I was walking along a truly Complete Street.  As buses went by, cyclists were protected by a nice, wide bike lane.  There were many places for pedestrians to cross, and wide, picturesque sidewalks on both sides of the road.  It’s a street that caters to all users, and looks pretty darned good while doing so, and that’s always nice to see.

Lakeshore Road in Oakville – One of a growing number of more complete streets starting to show up in the GTHA.

Now, of course, not everyone is going to choose to take transit or use active transportation.  For some people who live in areas poorly served by transit or far away from their place of work, the only viable option may be to use a personal vehicle for their daily commute.  But there are more sustainable ways of commuting by car, and the Town of Oakville works hard to promote those alternatives.  One of the easiest ways to save yourself money (and time, since you can use the HOV lanes!) is to carpool.  Oakville is an active participant in Smart Commute, and was awarded a Smart Commute Gold award for their work promoting carpooling to Town Staff and providing infrastructure (like some pretty primo parking spots) for employees who choose to carpool.

And so there you have it: Transit, Cycling, Walking and Driving, all the ingredients in a Transportation Cocktail.  Sure, sometimes the mix is a little bit off, but with great work like what is being done in Oakville, I have faith that soon we’ll achieve a mix that leaves us all feeling a lot healthier, a lot heavier in the wallet and a lot happier knowing that we’re treading lighter on our environment.

So that’s all for now from Oakville.  A huge thank you to all the Town Staff who took time out of their schedules to meet with me, and I also want to remind everyone that the Oakville Energy Fair is TOMORROW (Saturday, June 2, 2012) from 9 am until 1 pm with the OakvilleGreen Garage Sale and Plant sale running from 8 am until noon.  I’ll be there rummaging through the garage sale items, so you’d better get there early to beat me to the best stuff!

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